When St. Patrick’s Day comes around, most Americans think of the bridges and pubs of Dublin, shamrocks curled atop foaming pints of Guinness, and bad jokes. (You know you have. Remember the one whose answer is “Patty O’Furniture”?!).
Well, when you think of going to the Republic of Ireland, consider landing on the west coast (at Shannon) rather than the east (at Dublin). Everywhere, everywhere are wee villages and byways where you’ll find yourself smiling as you watch the shepherd slowly move wooly sheep down the road in front of you. Small pubs will tempt you with the creamiest, most luxuriant Irish coffee you’ve ever tasted. The Dingle Peninsula has a shore road that will give you a day’s worth of stunning coastal views. And Killarney has lakes that seem intent on delighting you with brief, soft rains followed by rainbows.
However, the view I’d very much like you to see are the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, an hour north of Shannon. You’ve probably caught a glimpse of them if you’ve seen The Princess Brideor Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; but nothing will prepare you for the jaw-dropping beauty of the cliff themselves.
As you drive up to the orientation center, you’ll smile: they’ve nestled it into a hillside so that it looks just like a Hobbit home. The center is truly informative, and one of the most crucial things they will say is to observe the barriers on the hillside: these barriers will truly protect you from being swept over to the Aran Islands by the west winds.
Safely behind the fencing, then let yourself stare. These 700-foot-high cliffs extend for nearly five miles and seem the embodiment of what a rugged, handsome Irish coast should be.
And that’s no Blarney. If you go, make sure you see them.
Next Time: The Unusual Mourning by the English of World War I
Photo credits: Killarney (vacationKillarney.com), Moher visitor center (arup), Cliffs of Moher (travelandleisure.com)